"An interesting thought occurred to me the other day as I sat having a conversation with one of my pals about this "old school" movement; the rules matter. Now that epiphany might seem both blatantly obvious as well as simplistic but it's the way that I came to it that brought it home for me.
After commenting that too many rules constrict imagination my buddy said well why don't we take the approach of rules subtraction and apply old school methodology to our current (4E) game. I've heard this argument before...
In a nutshell, it doesn't work. At least within the construct of 4E.
Here's an example: Say I've got a thief (er, rogue...sorry.) and he's in a bit of a tussle in the local constabulary. The room is strewn with tables and furniture of one sort or another and he's eager to put his vaunted dexterity to the test. After all, that's what thieves are known for right?
So he plans to flip a footstool into the face of an oncoming assailant and then leap onto the table in order to foil the clumsy attack of the bumbling guardsman.
OK, so in 4E it plays out rather like this:
DM: Your turn...
Player: I kick the small footstool through the air towards the oncoming guard on my left there in order to slow his approach.
DM: What power are you using to do this?
Player: Power? Uhm...Er...
Scene dramatics fizzle out and fade to grey.
To put it simply, the 4E rules are meant to be used in a very certain way. Granted, a creative group could describe what they're doing and bend the power to the action. But IF it doesn't specifically fit then they're shoe-horning things. And this is a pain. Why do it? Why not use rules that were meant for this style of play?
Thus the resurgence of "old school". IMHO of course."